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Originally published Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 5:06 AM

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'How I Came to Sparkle Again': finding her heart in the Rockies

Kaya McLaren's witty novel "How I Came to Sparkle Again" tells the story of a woman who finds a new life after loss in a Colorado ski resort. McLaren reads Oct. 28 at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co. and Nov. 8 at Eagle Harbor Book Co. in Bainbridge Island.

Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

Kaya McLaren

The author of "How I Came to Sparkle Again" will appear at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co.; free (206-624-6600 or She will read at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Eagle Harbor Book Co. on Bainbridge Island (206-842-5332 or
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'How I Came to Sparkle Again'

by Kaya McLaren

St. Martin's Press, 352 pp., $24.99

This warmhearted and funny novel by Washington state author Kaya McLaren ("Church of the Dog," "On the Divinity of Second Chances") transports the reader to the small ski town of Sparkle, Colorado, where one snowy winter works its magic on several residents.

Chief among the protagonists is Jill, a nurse who has just suffered a late-term miscarriage and who is further crushed to discover her husband in bed with another woman (in the novel's only hackneyed scene, blessedly brief).

Jill flees from Texas to her former home in Sparkle, where her best friend, Lisa, lines her up with a part-time ski-patrol job. There Jill meets a cast of good-natured, raunchy co-workers who name their dogs after beer and who pursue women with the tireless zeal of foxhounds.

There's also 10-year-old Cassie, mourning her dead mother and resentful of Jill, who is also her part-time baby-sitter — and who is drawn to Mike, the kindhearted paramedic who is Cassie's father. Gradually, the mother with no child and the child who needs a mother draw closer together — not without the occasional misstep and bratty backlash.

All these characters are interwoven in the authentically snowy ambience that bespeaks McLaren's skiing background (the author lives near Snoqualmie Pass). Quick with the quips and repartee, the dialogue is a pleasure to read, as McLaren shows her readers how even the brokenhearted can get their sparkle back.

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